A security guard was murdered while protecting a news team covering a “flash mob” theft in San Francisco.
Major metropolitan areas — especially San Francisco and other California cities — are battling a wave of smash-and-grab robberies, in which large groups of armed people rob stores and overwhelm employees.
On Wednesday, a crew from KRON4 — a local San Francisco news channel — covered one such story, in which 12 thieves wearing masks and hoods raided a clothing store. As an assailant tried to steal KRON4’s camera equipment, Kevin Nishita — an armed guard hired to protect the crew — was shot in the abdomen. He passed away on Saturday morning after receiving treatment at Highland Hospital.
“The victim is Kevin Nishita. He leaves behind a wife, two children and three grandchildren,” explained KRON4. “Nishita worked as an armed guard for Star Protection Agency. Prior to working as a guard, he served as a police officer at the Oakland Housing Authority, Hayward Police, San Jose Police, and the Colma Police departments. A reward of $32,500 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.”
A bystander was also hit by bullet shrapnel; he is presently in stable condition.
“It’s been an extremely violent week,” said Oakland police during a press conference. “We are asking if you were in the area, have a business or live nearby to please check your surveillance footage as you may have captured the crime before, during, or after it occurred.”
Nishita’s colleagues mourned his loss on social media.
“Kevin was genuine, humble and always did the job with a smile on his face,” said KRON4 reporter Camila Barco. “He was our private security guard that kept our team and numerous other Bay Area reporters safe while [out] in the field. Kevin will be missed.”
“Words cannot express my heartbreak,” commented KRON4 reporter Maureen Kelly. “Kevin Nishita was a good man who took his job seriously. He kept me and my colleagues safe. He did not deserve this. He and his family will be forever in my prayers.”
“I worked with Kevin often. He was a really good guy who took his job seriously. His loss is a heavy blow,” added KRON4 reporter Chuck Clifford.
In March, another San Francisco reporter — Don Ford of KPIX 5 — was robbed at gunpoint while filming a segment about car robberies in the city.
“The car came up here while we were about to do an interview, three guys jumped out. One had a gun and put [it] in my face and said, ‘We’re taking the camera,’” Ford recounted. “My whole thought at the moment was, ‘Be calm.’ Let’s not get this guy excited. He’s got the gun. I don’t. So you take you the camera. It’s yours, buddy.”
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey recently warned that the “flash mob” thefts would soon impact the entire nation.
“This is something now that I really unfortunately think is going to spread,” Ramsey said. “Right now it’s in California, but it will spread, there’s no question about it.”
“I don’t know what’s driving all this, but it is of concern and it will continue,” he added. “It is not going to stop any time soon.”